An amazing school year, in review !

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It was such  a wonderful school year!

I worked really hard with a bunch of amazing students! Among many other wonderful things we did , we took part in four European projects!

The British Council ” Life Skills” project, the “Teachers4Europe – Our European House” project and two awesome etwinning projects : ” PupPETs- Pen Pals ETwinned” and “Our European school newspaper” , together with more that 10 schools in Europe , as well as  Surinam, USA and  Taiwan!

I am really proud of both myself and my students! It has been a demanding school year! There was no financial support from school, therefore, I had to use money from our Christmas Bazaar to run our  projects!

Greece has been in a terrible debt crisis and everybody around me seemed to be  pessimistic about everything… Almost, depressed!

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I also had to fight the negativity among my colleagues and received  little  support from most of the parents ,who seemed to wonder ” when I actually teach” and  whether  my teaching methods have  anything to do with the way THEY had learned english at school!!  I made it my personal mission to fight off that negativity and go to work every day with nothing but positive thoughts.

I also had to work long hours every day, both at school and at home! I had to work on my laptop very late at night, when my  kids were in bed! I sometimes went to sleep later than 1 am ! It was exchausting!!

I am used to hard work since I was 20 when I got my first part time job as a “Frodisterio” teacher! But, I have to admit that, the last school year was one of the most productive years in my career ,so far!

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It’s almost mid-July, and I am still at home trying to get tasks done , such as work on  my blog posts ( too busy to find the  time to write on my blog during the last few months), put my notes together and create a Prezi presentation for next year’s Tesol conventions and local professional development seminars, in which I am willing to take part as a speaker, find some  time for my three children and my family in general  ,now that I am supposed to be more relaxed and “carefree”, and finally, find some free (?) time for me to  do…nothing else  but read my favourite detective stories,by the sea!! Truth is, it’s rather impossible to do this last thing in my summer-to-do list, mainly because I can’t afford to go on holidays , due to the terrible Greek debt crisis which has affected us all! But, I still believe that I might finally make it to have  some well deserved rest , in order to recharge my batteries and go back to class, with renewed enthusiasm, in September!…

My advice to younger colleagues is this:

Have fun but have fun with purpose. Be intentional about everything. Make memories. These are hard times but they are sweet times.

Live it. Be it. Be noble. We’re in an important profession. Teach on till the last day. Let’s rock!

 

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Here’s the link to this school year’s  photo review! Enjoy!

 

Life Skills-a British Council project: Activity 4: Who would you like to live with?

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This amazing 4th British Council ” Life Skills ” activity is about stereotypes, discrimination, racism, prejudice…

Definitions

Prejudice:

Attitudes or opinions about a person or group simply because the person belongs to a specific religion, race, nationality, or other group. Prejudices involve strong feelings that are difficult to change. Prejudice is pre-judging. A person who thinks, “I don’t want (name of group) living in my neighborhood,” is expressing a prejudice.

Discrimination:

When people act on the basis of their prejudices or stereotypes, they are discriminating. Discrimination may mean putting other people down, not allowing them to participate in activities, restricting their access to work or to live in certain neighborhoods, or denying them something they are entitled to by right and law.

Stereotype:

Oversimplified generalization about a group of people. When people say that all members of a specific nationality, religion, race or gender are “cheap,” “lazy,” “criminal” or “dumb,” they are expressing stereotypes. All groups have both cheap and generous individuals. All groups have individuals who commit crimes. To label an entire group based on the actions of some is to engage in stereotyping. Even when a stereotype is positive, such as when people in one racial group are thought to be superior athletes, the consequences of stereotyping are negative.

Scapegoating:

Blaming an individual or group when the fault actually lies elsewhere. Prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory acts can lead to scapegoating.

During this activity, I made sure that children understood  that prejudice and discrimination are unfair. I explained that, no person should be excluded or teased on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, accent, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or appearance.

To start with:

Print the list of tenants (one for each student)
• We tell the story of the Miller family:
“Mr and Mrs Miller live fairly happily in a big house
with their 20-year-old son David. Then, upon their retirement,
Mr and Mrs Miller decide to move to the country.
David lives alone in the family home now and enjoys
a satisfying bachelor’s life until one day he loses his job.
David is no longer able to live alone in the big house.
He uses his last money to split the house into 6 flats and puts
a “For Rent” ad in the newspaper”

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Now, imagine you are David and have to choose 5 tenants from a list of people who have answered your ad, in order to be able to keep the house.
• We ask each student to pick 5 tenants from the list
• We ask groups of 5 or 6 students to pick 5 tenants
that the whole group agrees on
• We discuss the following issues:
• Did the group agree on a list of 5 tenants?
Yes/No? Why (not)?

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• How did the group work collectively in order to agree on the list of 5 tenants? What did they find hard about it and what easy?
• We discuss the reasons for which
they chose these particular people
• We discuss any potential bias that each one of us may have.
We explain that it is almost impossible not to be biased; what is most important is to understand that it is only bias and that talking about differences and getting to know other people better can change people’s views
List of tenants (for older students)
Who would you share the same house with?

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1. An unmarried mother with a 3-year-old child, whose father
is from Tunisia. He occasionally visits his son and sometimes brings around some friends.
2. A family of refugee workers from Pakistan with 5 children
aged 1 to 12. Their father works in a steel mill and their mother will take up the position of concierge at the house.
3. A family with a 17-year-old daughter in the final grade of Secondary School. The father is a bank accountant
and the mother a teacher.

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4. A single 70-year-old woman, living on a minimum pension.
5. A group of 7 refugees from Iraq who all work
in the kitchen of a large restaurant.
6. A group of 5 young people who live an alternative lifestyle,
by recycling and only consuming what they need to survive.
7. Three Palestinian students who are political activists,
and often demonstrate for their rights.

Orangito, our guest flat puppet from Spain, took part in all the group discussions!

Orangito, our guest flat puppet from Spain, took part in all the group discussions!

8. A Roma family with 5 members. The father only works occasionally and is otherwise unemployed. The family belongs
to a broader family which is very close and likes to have parties.
9. An American couple with no children. The wife works for the International Atomic Energy Authority
and the husband looks after the house and their 3 poodles.
10. Two artists, around 40, who lead an unconventional life
and have many artists as friends.

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11. A girl who studies the piano and singing at a conservatory,
and has to frequently practice in the evenings.
12. An African American with his Austrian partner.
He is trying to get a permit to work as an engineer.
13. A religious Muslim family which strictly follows the Quran.
The mother will only leave the house wearing a headscarf.
14. A young man in a wheelchair who lives
with his 76-year-old mother.
15. A blind girl living with her dog.
List of tenants (for younger students)
Who would you share the same house with?
1. An unmarried mother with a 3-year-old child.
2. A family of refugee workers from Pakistan
with 5 children aged 1 to 12. Their father
works in a steel mill
and their mother will take up the position of
concierge at the house.
3. A family with a 17-year-old daughter in the final grade of Secondary School. The father is a bank accountant
and the mother a teacher.
4. A single 70-year-old woman, living on a minimum pension.
5. A group of 7 refugees from Iraq who all work
in the kitchen of a large restaurant.
6. Three Palestinian students who are political activists,
and often demonstrate for their rights.
7. A Roma family with 5 members. The father only works occasionally and is otherwise unemployed. The family belongs
to a broader family which is very close and likes to have parties.
8. An American couple with no children. The wife works for the International Atomic Energy Authority and the husband looks after the house and 3 dogs.
9. Two artists, around 40, who have many artists as friends.
10. A girl who studies the piano and singing at a conservatory, and has to frequently practice in the evenings.
11. An African American with his Austrian partner.
He is trying to get a permit to work as an engineer.
12. A religious Muslim family which strictly follows the Quran.
The mother will only leave the house wearing a headscarf.
13. A young man in a wheelchair
who lives with his 76-year-old mother.
14. A blind girl living with her dog.

Our variation was: I asked them to play a game ,when we finished our project : they had to stand up when I read them a sentence with which they agreed or keep sitted when I read them a sentence with which they disagreed! eg. ” All Greeks are lazy”, ” All Roma are thieves” , ” All muslims are terrorists”…It was really interesting to see what there was in their minds  …Stereotypes were there…We have to work hard to get rid of them!

We finally  all agreed that, we should  come closer to  understand other people better !

According to recent studies, encouraging children’s critical thinking ability may be the best antidote to prejudice.

Of course,  all children notice differences. This is developmentally appropriate and, by itself, not a problem; but when negative values are attached to those differences, problems occur.

The students were asked to play a game: they had to stand up when they agreed with what was said or sit down if they disagreed!

The students were asked to play a game: they had to stand up when they agreed with what was said or sit down when they disagreed!

Life Skills-a British Council project: Activity 2- A Social Contract.

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As I have already mentioned in my  first post about this amazing British Council project we have been working on with my 5th graders, for some time now…..

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We draw a human body on the whiteboard.

 

” about a month ago, I found out that I had to teach in ….Greek ,during the so called “Flexible  Zone”  of the greek primary schools, which has to do with  projects oriented learning , for about 2 hours every week.  I had to think hard before I made up my mind and finally decided to work on a British Council project, called “Life Skills”, which sounded both  promising and challenging! I also  decided ,to do part of the project, in english! ”

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The right of education for all!

 

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The right to religion! Haha

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Playing games to practice the rights vocabulary

 

Life Skills are not something new; they are a set of basic skills
that enable us to effectively manage the challenges and questions
we face in our daily lives. They include confidence, assertiveness,
decision-making, and the ability to stay safe
and healthy.

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Schools are uniquely placed to play a key role in promoting
and sustaining young people’s emotional and social health,
as part of their role in providing a rounded quality education which helps pupils to gain the confidence they need to develop into successful adults.

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The following second activity, is a copy from the British Council   manual for trainers and teachers with recommended activities !

My students are getting more and more excited every day and ask me to keep working on this project for as long as possible! They seem to be highly enganged and happy working on it! I feel blessed that I was given the chance to work on something so creative with them, this year!…

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In this second stage, students will create a Social Contract.
Students:
• will discover their rights and obligations through their
own need to live a happy life
• will feel personally responsible for upholding human rights and become committed to safeguarding and claiming them

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A piece of cardboard cut into the shape of a tree

1. A piece of cardboard cut into the shape of a tree
2. Coloured paper cut into the shape of leaves
or fruit and tree roots

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My students are getting more and more excited every day

• We draw a human body on the whiteboard.
• We ask the students to tell us the characteristics
and traits a person should have in order to feel fulfilled
and happy. We write down the words or draw them on or next
to the human body (e.g. education near the head, emotions
near the heart, food and water near the mouth).

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• We discuss with the students which characteristics
and traits we need to survive, which to develop
as personalities and which to make our lives better.

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Freedom of speech

 

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• We draw a tree on a piece of cardboard and stick it on
the wall. We give students pieces of paper shaped like leaves
or fruit and ask them to write on them the human rights related
to the human characteristics and traits we have drawn.
When they have written them all down, we check to see
whether there is any right we may have missed.

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• We then explain to them that in order to safeguard
our rights, we all need to fulfil certain obligations as individuals.
We give students pieces of paper shaped like roots and ask them to write on them the obligations that each one of us should have.

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Learning the relevant vocabulary in english with the help of posters.

 

 

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Using anagrams to guess the english words.

 

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Deep thinkers!…

 

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A bunch of highly motivated students!

 

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The characteristics and traits a person should have in order to feel fulfilled and happy

 

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Students feel personally responsible for upholding human rights

 

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The human rights related to the human characteristics and traits we have drawn

• When our tree is ready, we ask the group whether
it is satisfied and agrees with the result. If the answer is Yes,
we ask each student to place their signature on the tree,
and show in this way that they are committed to respect
human rights, claim them and to undertake their responsibilities.

Actually, I decide to add a few activities to the original ones!

Fisrt, we played a guessing game using drawing and miming with the rights vocabulary both in english and in greek! It proved to be loads of fun!

Later, I taught them all the rights and responsibilities vocabualry in english and played a teams guessing game with them using anagrams!

Finally, we decided to make a collage using our rights vocabulary and simple drawings!

 

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Placing our leaves on the tree!

 

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We give students pieces of paper shaped like roots and ask them to write on them the obligations that each one of us should have.

 

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The tree roots

 

 

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We ask each student to place their signature on the tree

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They are commited undertake their responsibilities

 

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Our responsibilities are the roots of our rights tree!

 

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They are committed to respect human rights

 

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Coloured paper cut into the shape of leaves

 

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Working on our Rights collage.

 

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A beautiful collage!

 

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